With all the focus on Romania’s double against Turkey and Holland, there was little attention paid to the U19 national team that played three games in Scotland, against the home side, Switzerland and Armenia. But that’s not news, just like the information that the team just missed out on the tickets to the Elite round, which would have been the last stage before the final tournament of the European Championship.
Romania started by earning what looked like a valuable point against Switzerland, Mihai Vodut‘s goal being cancelled by Endogan Adili just before the break. The game was followed by a 0-1 defeat against Scotland, who had won 4-0 their opening game against Armenia, the only change in the starting line-up seeing Alexandru Dan take the place of Iulian Rosu in a midfield line that had a more obvious defensive approach given the profile of the three players used.
Still, the race wasn’t over, as Romania needed to win against Armenia in the final match and a Scotland success in the duel with Switzerland, who had won as well against the group’s weakest team. Unfortunately, although both conditions were met (the home side trailed twice, yet came back and pushed for a win that wasn’t even necessary at that point), Adrian Vasai’s boys won’t make the next step. Dinamo’s Darius Buia scored very late, in the 82nd minute, and Romania failed to add a second goal that would have seen it through to the Elite Round.
It’s a bitter defeat for a decent team formed mainly with players from Steaua, Dinamo and Viitorul Constanta, who would have needed some more experience in its’ ranks. A look at the Swiss starting eleven, where several starters are already used on a regular basis at club level, in the top flight, is enough to see and explain the difference. A small one, if we look at the standings, a bigger one, if we dare to look at the bigger picture.
Unable to reach final tournaments at any level with the national team, Romania’s U19 got a break and qualified as the hosting nation for the games scheduled in the summer. Chiajna, Branesti, Berceni and Mogosoaia – all small villages outside Bucharest – will host the games that will be played between the 20th of July and the 1st of August, a tournament that Romania hopes to finish as one of the best four teams involved. Realistic chances to do it? None! Leaving aside the technical and tactical ability, it’s obvious that the young lads used mainly in the youth/reserve teams of the big clubs or in a mediocre second division aren’t mentally prepared for a successful campaign, but the U19′s coach came up with a plan backed by the Federation: a five months long training camp!
If I didn’t expect much from Lucian Burchel, the mediocre U19 coach and the man with the brilliant idea of copying what North Korea did before the World Cup, I must say I was surprise to see that Ionut Lupescu, who is now running things at the Romanian Football Federation, had nothing against it. According to prosport.ro, it all stopped because two clubs with players selected at this level refused to release them: Chindia Targoviste (now in third division, but controlled by Gheorghe Popescu) and Viitorul Constanta (second division, representing Gheorghe Hagi’s Academy). Apparently, Lupescu turned red and went on to accuse them of lack of vision and said they were only following their interests, but stopped from going further down that dangerous path and said that the Federation won’t punish the two clubs. Instead, the U19 will give up the initial plan and will prepare intensively for the tournament, with just one month to go before the kick-off and probably less ambitious plans…
Yesterday afternoon, Romania’s youngsters lost the friendly against Switzerland, in the last game that they’ll be playing ahead of the U19 tournament that will take place in Budapest, between the 2nd and the 9th of May, where they’ll meet teams like Portugal, Greece and Hungary.
Romania’s goal came from Alexandru Lazar in the 3rd minute, but the Swiss side came back through Charyl Chappuis just before the break and scored the winner in the 72nd minute after a goal scored by Granit Xhaka.
Romania’s first eleven: Bucuroiu (Udinese) – Beţa (Sportul Studentesc), Cioranu (Sportul Studentesc), Mladen (AS Roma), A. Sava (CS Otopeni) – Stoian (AS Roma), Bejan (Steaua), Chindriş (UTA Arad), Al. Lazăr (Steaua), C. Matei (Farul Constanta) – Ţucudean (UTA Arad).
Switzerland’s first eleven: Spiegel – Goncalves, Lacroix, Veseli, Rodriguez – Tosetti, Chappuis, Cokicli, Xhaka – Drmic, Kamber.